In the early 1990s, Jeff Suhy was a young executive at A&M records in Los Angeles when he first heard a band from the far-flung reaches of the Pacific Northwest. The group, which eluded categories and didn’t seem particularly interested in cultivating a mass audience, was Nirvana and its new album was a collection of songs called “Nevermind.” Soon, this peculiar trio from the shores of Puget Sound was the biggest thing going and music would never be the same again.
Suhy, as it turns out, gravitates toward turning points, whether in culture or in industrial design, which explains his love affair with the Citroen DS.
“The Citroen DS is a car that defined the future of automotive design when it appeared in 1955,” says Suhy. “It immediately made all other cars appear antiquated, and even cars today are influenced by technologies pioneered by the DS.”
Whether it was the hydraulic suspension, the safety features (such as an engine that, on front impact, was designed to slide under the car instead of into the driver’s solar plexus), or the self-leveling headlights that turn with the front wheels, the Citroen DS was remarkably ahead of its time. Indeed, the car was a a true product of the Space Age, when auto manufacturers found themselves awash in technologies that they were itching to use in the wake of World War II. Citroen was ultimately rewarded handsomely for its innovative efforts, selling more than one million DSs over the model’s twenty-year-lifespan.
Whether in terms of Seattle grunge bands or French cars, then, it turns out that there may be some accounting for taste after all.